Discuss Alexander Pope's 'The Rape Of The Lock' as a 'Mock Heroic Poem'.

Essay by kelleeUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, April 2005

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One of the finest examples of mock heroic poetry in the English language was composed after John Caryll, a friend of Pope's, informed the poet of an incident regarding two land owning, Catholic families, the Petres & the Fermors. The young lord Petre had cut off a lock of hair from the fashionable society lady Arabella Fermor, and both she and her family had taken offence. Caryll suggested that Pope should 'write a poem to to make a jest of it, and laugh them together again'. The result was the publication of The Rape of the Lock, in May 1712. However due to a favourable reaction, Pope published an expanded version in 1714, containing the card battle, the Cave of Spleen and the major addition of the supernatural elements that pope refers to as the 'machinery'. In 1717 a new edition containing the speech of Clarissa was introduced and published in response to criticism that the poem lacked a moral.

The harmonious & polished poem fulfils qualities associated with the cultural achievements of the renaissance period - working the values of the eighteenth century and serving the Horatian outlook to delight and teach.

The Rape of the Lock is referred to, by Pope himself as An 'Heroi-Comical Poem' or a mock epic. In it the familiar social reality in which the poem is rooted undergoes a transformation through the comic use of the epic parallel so that what is created is a unique blend of fantasy (supernatural deities) and reality. Pope is a satirical poet of civilised life, defining its positives by exposing its negatives with great argumentative structure and verbal artistry. This is shown in The Rape of the Lock as it oscillates between comicality & mockery as Pope juxtaposes the seriousness of epic, with its battles of...